JIBO Puts a Friendly Face to the Internet of Things


The “Internet of things” has become a buzzword for the simple concept that objects in the real world will be able to communicate with one another through the Internet. The idea is that everything can be connected, from a smart fridge to an aquaponic farm. Until now, the Internet of things didn’t have a friendly face, but a wildly-successful Indiegogo campaign brings us JIBO.

JIBO is a “social robot” with high-resolution cameras, artificial intelligence algorithms that enable it to learn, microphones and even the ability to respond to emotional cues. It can also talk and tell interactive stories to children. The Indiegogo campaign for the first wave of JIBO reached 500 percent of its funding goal within the first two days.

Technology users are already fans of naturalistic interfaces, such as Apple’s Siri and Microsoft’s Xbox Kinect, even if they can be a little buggy. The crowdfunding video shows potential backers images from The Jetsons, Star Wars and Wall-E to let them know that JIBO fits into the ideal of having a robot around.

According to the campaign page, developer units will begin shipping in late Q3 of 2015, and the consumer units purchased or pre-ordered throughout the campaign will ship by the holidays of 2015. The full release to the public is scheduled for early 2016.

The project seems very ambitious. However, plenty of crowdfunding campaigns have fallen by the wayside, or failed to reach completion. Others appear to have been vaporware all along, but the JIBO campaign looks solid and well put together.

A concern about JIBO, perhaps mostly among sci-fi fans, is the propensity for AI devices to turn evil. All kidding aside, AI is constantly improving.

The crowdfunding campaign is already a runaway success, and the likelihood is that the product will eventually become available on the consumer market. In fact, as technology continues its aggressive advances, more devices that act a little more human will likely find a place within the market.

“These are your things,” the video says. “But these are the things that matter, and somewhere in between is this guy. Introducing JIBO — the world’s first family robot.”

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